M U S S E L S  I N  C I D E R

W I T H

T O M A T O ,  C R È M E  F R A Î C H E

A N D  D I J O N  M U S T A R D

Preparation time: 45 minutes for cleaning and

soaking the mussels

Cooking time: 10-12 minutes

Serves: 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter

Season: Mussels are at their best September

through December but are reasonably available throughout the year

1 kg mussels

2 tblsp sea salt, for soaking the mussels, plus

additional for the broth

60 g unsalted butter

6 shallots

3 garlic cloves

3 large sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

400 ml tomato passata

480 ml cider

1 level tblsp Dijon mustard

2 rounded tblsp crème fraîche

15 g fresh parsley leaves

Clean the mussels under cold running water.  Leave them to soak for half an hour in a large bowl with plenty of salted water.  Scrape off barnacles and pull off the hairy beards.  Discard any mussels with broken shells.  Most of them will be closed: if any are open, given them a squeeze.  If they don't close shut, then throw them away.

Heat the butter in a wide deep saucepan with a tight fitting lid over moderately high heat until foaming subsides.  Peel and cut the shallot in half.  Then chop the shallot into thin slices.  Peel and crush the garlic with a little salt in a mortar.  Then add, along with the shallots, to the hot butter.  Stir to coat in the warm butter and cook gently until the shallots start to soften and become translucent.

Wash the sprigs of thyme and blot dry with kitchen paper.  Pull off the leaves and give them a rough chop to release their flavour.  Then add to the pan along with a pinch of sea salt and the black pepper, stirring to coat.  Slowly pour in the tomato passata and cider and bring to a gentle boil.  

Add the cleaned mussels and cook; covered, stirring occasionally, until mussels open, 4-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Discard any mussels that remain unopened after 6 minutes.

Wash the parsley and blot dry with kitchen paper.  Chop the leaves and fine stems of the parsley and set aside.  Stir together the mustard and crème fraîche in a small bowl.  Then add, along with the chopped parsley, to the hot tomato broth and whisk until combined.

Divide the mussels amongst warm bowls and ladle the sauce over them.  Serve with a leafy green salad and lots of crusty bread.